Have a Date with Radio: The Only Medium that Can Hold a Conversation

By Kate Sims

It is the medium we truly take for granted, yet it’s typically the first thing we reach for when we get in our cars. Whether traditional or broadcast, radio, like a lot of its media cousins, is still making moves in a world geared toward wifi and streaming. Unlike television and newspapers, radio still has a strong following and loyalty.

Ninety three percent of adults listen weekly to radio as compared to television at 73% and smartphones at 80%, according to a Nielsen study. Plus, those that listen to Pandora actually spend more time listening to traditional radio than its online counterpart, says Media Life magazine. It all comes down to the support of listeners, from news to music.

I am an avid supporter of opinionated radio host talks and the rewards one can get from just listening. For example, did you know you can win anything from concert tickets to $1000 dollars toward your bills, just by calling in? I am not mentioning this for the funds factor–though that is important–but for the participation in radio. I have gained a new appreciation for radio after realizing I can form a connection with the DJs and participate in the production of radio shows.

I recently spoke with former Minaret editor and current NPR employee, Miles Parks, to get a better overview of how professional radio works. According to Parks, NPR only spends a total of 14 days a year pushing fundraising for the stations, one week in the fall and one in the spring. “It’s a misconception that the government pays for [the station], when in fact they only pay about 10 percent,” he said.

When asked what drew him to his current job, Parks talked of the pride in his work and the lack of human connection that comes with reading a newspaper. “When I wrote a piece for The Minaret, it would feel great to see it,” he said.

For him, that feeling was short lived as he received little feedback or critique on his articles. It was only when he started working for NPR that he discovered a stronger love for radio because of the connection he made with their stories.

“There were probably two newspaper stories I [have] read that made me cry. I can count 30 radio stories that reached me like that.” For him, hearing a voice on the other side as opposed to just writing words on a paper forged a deeper emotional tie.

How many of us have really tuned into the University of Tampa’s own radio station of WUTT? The WUTT station has a lot to offer with shows that range from the top 40 countdowns to indie talk shows and sports. On average, these DJs, who are students themselves, put anywhere from an hour to three hours (depending on the length of the show) into preparing entertainment for the students of UT on a regular basis. “We do all this work so you can enjoy it,” says Dominick Falco, the general manager of WUTT. As a matter of fact, Falco has been making great connections at a radio conference in New York so the station can start giving more to their listeners, like ticket giveaways.

There is nothing like that connection we make when we simply interact with another person, especially when they are in a little room pumping out tunes, news, and prizes to listeners everywhere. Whether it is in the car or during a study session in the library (where our wifi isn’t the most reliable), feel free to tune into your local stations, phone at the ready, and you may find that your favorite song comes with a ticket to the hottest show that week.

Kate Sims can be reached at kaytlyn.sims@spartans.ut.edu

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